Young Egyptians Protect the Library of Alexandria

February 1, 2011 at 4:21 pm 18 comments

Library of AlexandriaAs political demonstrations sweep through Cairo and gain traction in the rest of the country, an organization of young Egyptians has decided that, rather than let the nation’s precious cultural and historical artifacts be destroyed or stolen (like what happened during the 2003 US invasion of Iraq), they would band together to protect public buildings such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria.

Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, posted the following on the library’s website (via Galleycat):

The world has witnessed an unprecedented popular action in the streets of Egypt. Led by Egypt’s youth, with their justified demands for more freedom, more democracy, lower prices for necessities and more employment opportunities. These youths demanded immediate and far-reaching changes. This was met by violent conflicts with the police, who were routed. The army was called in and was welcomed by the demonstrators, but initially their presence was more symbolic than active. Events deteriorated as lawless bands of thugs, and maybe agents provocateurs, appeared and looting began. The young people organized themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighborhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria. They are collaborating with the army. This makeshift arrangement is in place until full public order returns.

The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters. I am there daily within the bounds of the curfew hours. However, the Library will be closed to the public for the next few days until the curfew is lifted and events unfold towards an end to the lawlessness and a move towards the resolution of the political issues that triggered the demonstrations.

Bravo, young people!


Entry filed under: Public Libraries.

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18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. See Yong Chun  |  February 8, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I think that the Egyptian youth of today actually know what is precious to them, unlike most of us. Many people today do not treasure their own past, and often think of it as “uncool” and very outdated. Literature nowadays is moving to the modern era, and the number of classical stories and books is greatly decreasing, with the futuristical ideas manifesting themselves. In my opinion, long lost literature is the best there is.

    • 2. Jason Erik Lundberg  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      Well said, Yong Chun. Although I’m curious, what do you mean by “long list literature”?

  • 3. Jordan Leong  |  February 10, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I feel that these young people realised how important libraries are in their lives. There is often a misconception that young people detest reading and only go after tech-savvy stuff. However, this is a change for once when we see that young Egyptians are actually fighting to save the libraries. It is something really meaningful that young Egyptians are doing and helping to save the countries treasures.

  • 4. Javier Toh 2A2 (14)  |  February 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I feel that these young Egyptians treasure their library very much and would actually do something so much as to protect the historical artifacts which are being stored inside the library. They were not afraid of being attacked and stood up to what they felt had to be preserved to let the younger generations to view.I feel that if this were to happen to our country, not many young singaporean citizen would try to protect the important books or artifacts in these public buildings by risking their lives.Thats why we should learn from the egyptians to treasure the things which we have and protect it.Furthermore those things are the one and only precious artifact in this world.

  • 5. Ge Shuming  |  February 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I find that history can tell a lot of things as the logic in this world is that something leads to something. Historical artifacts can tell a thousand things just like a portrait can tell a thousand words. Although by guarding the places of value very well, it may stop attracting tourists who have no interest to steal but to view the exhibitions. The problem lies in between, so it is very hard to settle out the problem.

    • 6. Jason Erik Lundberg  |  February 11, 2011 at 9:27 am

      I think tourists are staying away from Cairo right now, Shuming, so I don’t see an issue in terms of lost tourism revenue because the young people are protecting these buildings. In fact, it is because they are protecting them that tourists will be able to come back after things calm down and be able to see everything that is still there.

  • 7. Chng Ren Kai  |  February 10, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I feel that these teenage Egyptians are a role model for all people of the world. Their actions are very commendable and proves to critics that teenagers today are not that nonchalant as they think. Moreover, their actions are promoting people to read more books, improving their literacy, which is the best asset one can get.

  • 8. Haung Tianle 1O4 10  |  February 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    I feel that the youth of Egypt had done a great job in protecting the important culture of Egypt. Egypt has a history of over 5000 years and there is huge cultural values in the history of Egypt as it is one of the earliest civilization of the human kind. By protecting the important piece of history and culture, we can see that young Egyptians are very concern about their history and cultural values and by protecting it saved an important section of the history of we human beings.

  • 9. Koh Ling Tian  |  February 12, 2011 at 12:29 am

    This shows that not everyone of our generation knows only how to sit in front of the computer and use it for the whole day. Reading books is still something which we would be doing – those not addicted to playing computer games will find playing them boring if they are to play for the whole day. What do we turn to so that we will not be bored? Books. There are so many types of books to choose, from romance to horror, and with the fact that different authors have different writing styles, we will never be bored of reading books, provided that type of book interests you. So, when the Library of Alexandria is in danger, young Egpytians protect it, so that they can still borrow books from there to read.

  • 10. Ng Guang-An 2O4 20  |  February 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I feel that the youth of Egypt are doing the right thing by potecting buildings like libraries and museums. The world is currently dominated by technology readily available at the tip of our fingers. At this rate, libraries and museums might become extinct as such information can be found on the Web, thus making libraries redundant.

    However, the youths should not have turned their demonstrations violent. That would make something harmless become very wrong.

  • 11. Lim Bing Wen  |  February 14, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I feel that the youth of Egypt had done a great job in protecting the important culture of Egypt. Egypt has a history of over 5000 years and there is huge cultural values in the history of Egypt as it is one of the earliest civilization of the human kind.. The youth of Egypt are doing the right thing by potecting buildings like libraries and museums. However, the youths of Egypt should not use such violent means.

  • 12. Loh Jia Sheng 2A2 24  |  February 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I feel very touched by the actions of the egyptian youths. I think that they were protecting these public buildings mainly because they were proud of their country and their history. This attitude of loving your own country can rarely be found in Singapore these days, as the youths in Singapore do not take it as a big deal to serve the country and do community work. One example is that youths in Singapore nowadays only think about going through National Service as like a requirement in their lives as a Singapore citizen, not because they want to train up to be strong soldiers for Singapore. Another example is that, youths or students do community work with the mindset that they want to fufill the school CIP hours requirement, or maybe with the mindset that they want to achieve the various awards that is given by their schools, if they fufilled a required number of CIP hours. I think the right attitude however, is to do community work because you love your country and want to serve it well as a good citizen, not because of any other reasons.

  • 13. Chong Chee Yuan 2P4  |  February 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I feel that the young people have been brought up well. They knew how much the countries’ artifacts meant to the country, and therefore would try their best to protect the artifacts. I feel that they are very loyal to their country and if there is a need to, they might even sacrifice their life for. This is a very noble thing to do and I felt that I was a very respectful thing to do, for their country. I feel proud for their country, with such good citizens loyal to the country. I hope that people in SIngapore would do the same thing with anything like that happens in Singapore. Isn’t “being loyal to our country” part of our conduct song?

  • 14. Zhang Jie 2A2 33  |  February 28, 2011 at 5:16 am

    I really think that the young Egyptians should be commemorated as “Warriors of Egypt” for their actions. They are brave and courageous to stand out fot the people and for the long and beautiful history and culture of Egypt.The museum and library that they protected contains a tremendous amount of information,once these informations are lost, i could say that a piece of the puzzle of the past is lost.The youths definitely realised this point so they choose to act instead of letting it happen. These young Egyptians were truly the future of Egypt. I believed that with the lead of these young heroes, Egypt shall step into a new era, an era for a change, an era of peace and joy for the nation.

  • 15. Ng Jing Heng 2P416  |  March 2, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I think that these young Egyptians should be applauded for their courage and selflessness. Most people will think that adults treasure their nation’s culture and history more than the newer generations, however, this time the young Egyptians are protecting them from the adults. In times of chaos, most will only think of themselves and do everything for their own interests. These young Egyptians have shown us that we must unite and protect the important things instead of being selfish.

  • 16. Chen Bo Han  |  August 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I feel greatly relieved that the Egyptian museums and libraries are guarded by youths who take initiative. It must be known that books and historic artifacts are never one’s property, they contain knowledge that belong to every single individual of the human civilization. They are doing a favour not only for themselves but for everyone. Therefore I thank them for what they are doing. Sadly as I say it, when Egyptian youths are taking initiatives to guard their libraries, youths in Singapore are taking libraries for granted. They go in and make a fool of themselves. They tear, crumple and shrew pages of books for the sake of fun, which seems ridiculous. I strongly encourage everyone of us here to learn from their spirit and moral values, and libraries in Singapore can be in much better condition for everyone to enjoy.

  • 17. Ang Wen Yang 2A2  |  August 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I feel glad that the Egyptian people are protecting public places for learning like the library and the museum. These 2 places are where centuries of rich Egyptian culture are housed. If they were to be looted by uncouth youths, it would be such a disgrace to the country and to the people whose ancestors have slogged for centuries to bring the newer generations their success today. If all the history were lost, all the hard work by their forefathers would have all been in vain.

  • 18. Zhu Zehao  |  August 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I believe that this is a positive sign for Egypt as it shows that their youths are aware of the need to protect and conserve their rich cultural and history. I also think that the actions of the Egyptian youths are very commendable and should be praised. They are willing to take the initiative to defend what is precious and belongs to them. However, I feel that the Egyptian government should do more than sit back and let their youths do the work. They should also step up security around these areas to protect them from danger and thieves.


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